[caption id="attachment_51729" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]<img class="wp-image-51729 size-large" src="https:\/\/theenterprise.net\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/23\/2021\/04\/Save-1024x641.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="641" \/> The Patrick County Master Gardeners will hold a plant sale on Saturday, April 24 from 8 to noon at the Rotary building in Stuart. Group members are happy to help customers select the ideal plants to attract butterflies and other species to local gardens.[\/caption]\r\n\r\n<hr \/>\r\n\r\nBy Debbie Brown, PC EMG\r\n\r\nWho doesn\u2019t like butterflies? Who wouldn\u2019t enjoy seeing more of them?\r\n\r\nDouglas Tallamy states in his call to action book, Bringing Nature Home, \u201cButterflies used to reproduce on the native plants that grew in our yards before the plants were bulldozed and replaced with lawn. To have butterflies in our future, we need to replace those lost host plants, no if\u2019s and\u2019s or but\u2019s. If we do not, butterfly populations will continue to decline.\u201d\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s time to work together to swing the pendulum back in the direction of caring for our shrinking wildlife and protecting our ecosystem.\r\n\r\nThe Patrick County Master Gardeners have partnered with the town of Stuart to beautify Main Street with flower beds, which eventually will be filled with mostly native plants. The PCMG\u2019s main objective in this ongoing project is to educate and demonstrate the value of planting with pollinators in mind.\r\n\r\nButterflies and moths have basic needs which must be met in order to survive. They will thrive on the nectar of many flowering trees, shrubs, and plants, but because of their metamorphic life cycle, a host plant is also required for the larvae stage. They need varying canopy layers for shelter, a variety of plants, preferably native, with different bloom times for a long season of feasting. Planting in clumps of the same color together makes the flowers easily seen as our winged friends pass by.\r\n\r\nTallamy suggests as much as possible we choose plants that pull double duty as hosts and nectar, \u201cOne excellent group of plants that no butterfly garden should do without are the milkweeds. When planted together, milkweed species such as butterfly weed, common milkweed, and swamp milkweed create a continuous display of wonderful pink or orange flowers that are highly attractive to several species of butterflies from June into September. Moreover, along with the floral show, you get brand new butterflies. The monarch is the best-known milkweed specialist, but at least 11 other species of Lepidoptera reproduce on milkweeds as well. Coneflowers and black-eyed Susans also wear two hats in the butterfly garden.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe world of butterflies is fascinating and varied. There are 70 butterflies and moths native to Patrick County according to butterflysocietyofva.org. They include the well-known Monarch, Zebra, Painted Lady, and Swallowtails to the lesser-known Coral Hairstreak, Mourning Cloak, and Question Mark. As I researched for this article, I enjoyed looking up pictures of the varieties at insectidentification.org\/butterflies-and-moths.php. The unique shapes and color combinations are truly works of art. I especially loved the beauty of these listed, along with the plants needed to host them: Great Spangled Fritillary (Violets), Monarch (Milkweed, Butterfly Weeds), Painted Lady (Pearly Everlasting, Sweet Everlasting),\u00a0 Pearl Crescent (Aster family), Pipevine Swallowtail (Dutchman\u2019s Pipe, Virginia Snakeroot), Question Mark (Elms, Nettles), Red-banded Hairstreak (Oaks, Staghorn Sumac, Wax myrtle, Winged Sumac),\u00a0 Red-spotted Purple Admiral (Cherries, Elms),\u00a0 Spicebush Swallowtail (Sassafras, Spicebush), Viceroy (Willows), Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Basswood, Birches, Black Cherry, Tulip Poplar, Willows), Zebra Swallowtail (Pawpaw).\r\n\r\nThe varieties I\u2019ve chosen to mention have unique identifying qualities. I look forward to planting intentionally according to their needs over time and eventually seeing at least some of them take up residence in my yard. What a win-win! Supporting our ecosystem and enjoying butterfly watching at my doorstep. For those interested, butterfly garden certifications can even be earned (nababutterfly.com\/butterfly-garden-certification-program.)\r\n\r\nRemember every caterpillar that is produced on a host plant will either create a butterfly or feed a hungry bird. Searching for the well-loved natives can sometimes be a challenge but it will be well worth it. A good place to start will be at the PCMG plant sale on Saturday, April 24 from 8 to noon at the Rotary building in Stuart. Master gardeners will be on hand to assist you as you make selections. Also, tune in to WHEO at 92.7 on April 27 at 8:30 a.m. to listen to PCMG\u2019s discuss butterflies and moths that are native to our area.